After 16 years of service as the first executive director and president of Muslim Advocates, Farhana Khera will be stepping down on July 16, 2021. Under Farhana’s leadership, Muslim Advocates achieved historic, extraordinary and impactful wins for the American Muslim community and became a widely respected civil rights powerhouse and leader in our field.
We are pleased to announce that Farah Brelvi and Asifa Quraishi-Landes will join the staff of Muslim Advocates as interim co-executive directors while a national search is conducted for our next executive director. Both Brelvi and Quraishi-Landes were founding board members of Muslim Advocates and bring a wealth of legal, policy, and organizational experience to the work. Brelvi is chair of the ACLU of Northern California and a former vice-chair of Amnesty International USA. Quraishi-Landes is a law professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she specializes in comparative Islamic and U.S. constitutional law. They will both play a role in the search for our next executive director but have asked not to be considered for the permanent position themselves.
Thanks to Farhana’s leadership, Muslim Advocates is the go-to policy expert in the American Muslim community. Her accomplishments include testifying at and supporting five congressional hearings on American Muslim civil rights issues, securing passage of the first-ever Muslim civil rights bill, securing the repeal of Trump’s Muslim Ban, and facilitating a historic meeting between President Obama and Muslim leaders, as well as the first policy meeting between Speaker Pelosi and Muslim leaders.
Muslim Advocates also successfully litigated many important cases, including obtaining a groundbreaking ruling making clear that law enforcement cannot target people based on their faith and securing the right of Muslim communities to build mosques and cemeteries. All of these activities are supplemented by the legal support Muslim Advocates provides to thousands of community leaders and organizations across the country.
Farhana became executive director of Muslim Advocates in 2005 following a prestigious tenure working in the U.S. Senate. At the time, the American Muslim community was in crisis less than four years after 9/11. The immense resources of local, state and federal law enforcement and the intelligence apparatus were focused squarely on American Muslims and community-based organizations serving the diverse community. American Muslims felt chilled in their ability to go about their everyday lives, free of harassment or discrimination, including to express themselves, to worship, to travel and to work or study. Anti-Muslim bigotry had taken hold and grown to unacceptable levels, including disturbingly high levels of hate crimes. Muslim Advocates was launched and grew during this turbulent time, ultimately growing into the influential organization it is today.
We are enormously grateful for Farhana’s tireless dedication, leadership, sacrifice, and commitment to freedom, justice and equality for all. We thank her for her service to our community and our country and wish her the very best.
Board Chair, Muslim Advocates